Advice Wanted: Lost Mojo, Cold Feet. Now what?

by cv harquail on June 7, 2009

Some call it losing your Host Mom Mojo. Others call it cold feet. Whatever it is that MR has, she needs some advice:

red crocs.jpg "My new au pair is scheduled to arrive in less then 3 weeks. So far, we have had 2 au pairs in one year, both were failed matches. To make the matters worse, the last au pair left us with no notice, aided by LLC, and left us in a complete bind with no child care. We have been juggling two kids, two full time jobs, numerous school closings (some with only 24 hour notices), and a house renovation for the past month.

Now with the new au pair picked, and ready to come, I am starting to get very nervous. We have selected her from a list of available au pairs who matched our criteria, interviewed her extensively, and thought and still think that she could be a good match. She is energetic, experienced, experienced driver, smart, has excellent English skills, outgoing, and so far very communicative. All the things that none of our past two au pairs weren’t.

We cannot wait to for her to arrive and take some burden off of my husband and me. But at the same time, it is almost like I am getting cold feet. What if this does not work out? I don’t think I could handle another failed match."

Has anyone else ever gotten this cold feet type feeling? How did you deal with it?


Annemarie June 7, 2009 at 9:13 pm

I have been in the exact same situation!!! My first au pair last three weeks and then moved in with the LCC with no notice. She was a transition au pair who they promised had no issues. It was the family. She lasted a little over a month with the next family!!! No one could tell this girl what was expected or how to do something. I was very upset because she stayed in our cluster and mad mouthed us to everyone including the next au pair. This should not be allowed. She would come and pick up my new au pair!! The new au pair, also a transition au pair, has had many issues and many of them were safety issues. So now she is leaving and we too wonder about our next au pair. We spent a great deal of time interviewing and have someone we think will be perfect, but what if this doesn’t work out? I have been reading this post and know to get them to work right away. The problem is that they meet other au pairs and their families don’t impose limitations with the car, curfew, etc. and they think the grass is greener somewhere else and the agency makes it easy for them to move. They can leave you hanging without childcare with no notice what so ever. They should be forced to move to another area and not be allowed to stay with their friends. This makes the move far to easy for them. ” I’ll go to the family 5 miles away with my own BMW or whatever.” I agree – how do you deal with this??? We pay the agency a lot of money and seem to have no say.

Anna June 8, 2009 at 7:35 am

My old agency had a policy not allowing rematches in the same area.

Calif Mom June 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

Breathe. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Several times in a row.

Only partly joking; we went through a spate of “bad fit” with two APs in a row who lasted only a few months, for various reasons. One is still in the area, and apparently met our current one, who came home and said “Did you have an AP named X?” It gave me the opportunity to talk about values and commitment…

Anyway, I totally understand the twice-bitten, thrice-shy anxiety. Let yourself be cautiously optimistic. Our current (rematch) AP has been with us almost a year, is extending, and she is our best AP ever. So let hope spring eternal. You will be able to exhale again about week 2 or 3 after your new AP arrives. Hang on just a little longer!

Franzi June 8, 2009 at 1:18 pm

from an AP point of view, sit her down on her third or fourth day and in a nice, open atmosphere, talk to her about your concerns! this is the best you can do to bond with her and it enables her to understand where your insecurities might come from. i think she would be appreciative of your honesty!

Darthastewart June 8, 2009 at 2:15 pm

I think I would sit down with the au-pair and talk through the situation. You can’t overcommunicate. Remember that there are two sides to every story, and if she only hears the ex’s side, then you could be shooting yourself in the foot. IMO, it’s best to head it off before it even becomes a problem.
I wish you the best of luck with the newest one.

Hula Gal June 9, 2009 at 1:08 am

When we were facing the possibility of a getting a third au pair after the first one left the program after being here for three days and the second one got cold feet after being here for just a few weeks, I was feeling very disappointed with the program. I regretted our decision to host an au pair and went back to researching the cost of a nanny. I was going to convince my husband that we could just ditch the au pair thing, walk away from the money we had invested and spend twice as much on a nanny. But, things smoothed out with the au pair and we are ok now. I’d suggest two things to get you through this. Remind yourself why you chose an au pair over the other choices. Presumably these reasons are still valid. Commit to getting through your first year regardless of how it goes. You can handle it for one year. At the end of the year evaluate the experience overall and decide if you want to do it again. Take it one year at a time. And keep reading this blog. ;-)

Nicole June 9, 2009 at 2:21 am

I felt exactly as you are describing after 3 unsuccessful matches. My husband and I were a wreck waiting for our new AP to arrive fearing it would end the same, but I am glad to report that she has been hear almost a month and it has been wonderful! I still fear that something will go wrong and she will leave, but so far she has proven to be an excellent AP and what we were hoping for since we first entered the program. Now if we can only figure out a way to keep this feeling going for the whole year, or maybe two!!

CV June 17, 2009 at 10:43 am

Hey Mom-who-asked-this-question:

Did you recharge your Mojo?
Has your new au pair arrived yet?
How’s it working out?

Inquiring host minds want to know…

MTR June 22, 2009 at 11:16 am

Hi CV,

I have been so crazy busy lately that barely even looked at this blog for weeks now (and obviously did not respond to your email – sorry).

Our new AP is here for over a week now. So far so good. She is very different from out previous two failed AP’s, so that is a good thing. I am slowly getting my mojo back, but still being very cautious and careful – don’t want to jinx anything.

Once things settle down with my family, I will be back. Thanks for remembering about me.

Host Mom VA June 26, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Glad to read this posting as we have had 1 Au Pair who went home after 5 weeks (her choice but a good one at that!) as we were about to make the same decision and now we are 2 weeks into a replacement Au Pair who is not working out so great. She has been with another family for quite a while but not panning out to be what I was lead to believe by the other host Mum. She rematched through circumstances out of her control, nothing to do with her.
She is great with the kids but we have other issues, sleeping in when meant to be starting work), not turning up when meant to be working, not doing chores I ask her (kid related in working hours), and so on and so on. She is getting better so I am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.
She is just here for 3 more months and then has the possibility of extending and I do not know if I want her to or not as this point.
We had a terrible one 2 yrs ago who we fired after 10 weeks for doing something illegal and then had a great one a for a yr.
Makes you very pessimistic about the whole program.

Anonymous June 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Host Mom VA, I think I would roll the dice and not extend if I were you. We have our 4th AP and 1 of them was Fantastic, 1 of them was a rematch and the other 2 just mediocre. Having had that one great experience followed by a rematch and a mediocre match, I am also frustrated with the program. But HD and I have hope that there are other great AP matches out there and won’t put up with “below mediocrity.” I know we wouldn’t extend with an au pair who wasn’t fantastic and I know we would go into rematch quickly for legitimate issues. If your new AP isn’t at her best performance in her first 2 wks at your house – AND she has been an AP for a while and knows what the job entails – she isn’t going to improve (IMO.)

Host Mom VA July 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Kind of what I am thinking too although she is getting better.

A-Mom-ymous July 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm

How soon do you have to decide? I sort of agree that when she’s that early into her new job, a long-term keeper would be making extra effort.

To Anonymous and Host Mom VA — I think you can stack the deck in your favor thru carefull screening and interviewing. really spending a lot of time on the search. But it will always be a bit of a gamble.

Also, Host Mom VA, I’m not sure I would believe the agency that the rematch was strictly nothing to do with her. Call me bitter, but the process is full of people “spinning” their stories. It would be very easy and tempting to encourage re-placement of an AP who was so-so, with a cover story, even if you really did need to leave the program anyway. Might want to save the costs of keeping her while she searched for new host family, and the anxiety of having her in your house still, even when she knows you are done with her.

Anyway, I have had more years of success than years of unhappiness with the program or I wouldn’t stay with it.

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